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Fixing the Recession, One Sign at a Time

April 14th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I’m back in Norfolk visiting my family for Easter weekend. And man, is it ever different than New York. I snapped this photo of a banner hanging from a restaurant that pretty much sums the difference up perfectly:

Recession repair sign

For those of you that are reading this in text-only form, it reads: “Listen Less to the News, Spend Money and Support America, And We Will All Be OK!”

Wouldn’t it be great if that’s really all it took, just that one sign! Apparently the owner of San Antonio Sam’s (the restaurant where the sign is hanging) had this banner made up special, just to let Norfolk know how to get out of this mess.

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Dancing Centaurs, Sleeping Guitarist: I Am So Sorry

March 30th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon



Robbie Guertin of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Originally uploaded by Staciaann Photography

It sounded like a bunch of centaurs were following an exercise video upstairs, right above my bed this morning. Interesting visual, but at 7 AM there ain’t a damn thing more fascinating and beautiful than the backs of my eyelids underneath the blankets.

The sound clarified, resolving itself in my ears the way blurry, doubled vision clears up. There was maybe only one centaur upstairs. It clarified a little further to where it sounded pretty much like what it was: a large woman — or slender man — doing a bunch of jumping jacks.

The apartment immediately above my bed belongs to a guy named Robbie (or Robert) Guertin. Those of you who are into your bigger indie bands will recognize that name as the guy who plays guitars and keyboards for the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

He’s a nice enough guy, as near as I can tell. We go about our business and say “hi” politely when we see one another. A couple years ago I interviewed him and photographed the band at the Virgin Fest and he was real nice then, too.

A few months ago, Robbie and/or a female friend were practicing some music in their apartment above me at about 1 AM on a school night. And the song wasn’t bad, either, as near as I could tell through the ceiling. It did go on, as songs do when you’re practicing them at home and you want to get them just right.

And after a while I had just had enough, but I felt awful about it. I like music, miss playing music, and I know what it’s like to have to work some music out in the apartment, where you feel so comfortable but sounds travel so far.

I never thought I’d be that dude, but here I was, banging on somebody’s door to stop the rock ‘n roll because I had a big meeting in the morning. Robbie was real nice and understanding about it, and everything was cool.

Then came the jumping jacks this morning. And even though it has been maybe six months since the band practice, I was like “oh for FUCK’s SAKE. NOW WHAT.” I am an ugly, short-tempered thing before noon, barely rational after eight hours’ sleep and 3 cups of coffee.

But getting woke up by your upstairs neighbor’s jumping jacks workout … that’s just the worst thing about New York right there.
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Death, Proto-Punk and the New York Times

March 16th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Death

Oh, I just live to learn about music like this. I’d never heard of Death until this afternoon, but the whole thing has me unstuck in time. Half of me is lying on the floor in high school, in someone’s dark room smoking pot and watching punk posters peel off the wall and getting my mind blown by something caustic and brand-new. The other half of me is in my friend Patrick’s mildewy garage trying to put together our own garage-punk band. I can smell the grass from the lawn mower, the mildew from the wet carpet in the corner and hear the ringing in my ears. Then a third half of me dreams of remixing my last band’s unreleased music into a similar find …

But enough about that. From the New York Times:

Forgotten except by the most fervent punk rock record collectors — the band’s self-released 1976 single recently traded hands for the equivalent of $800 — Death would likely have remained lost in obscurity if not for the discovery last year of a 1974 demo tape in Bobby Sr.’s attic. Released last month by Drag City Records as “… For the Whole World to See,” Death’s newly unearthed recordings reveal a remarkable missing link between the high-energy hard rock of Detroit bands like the Stooges and MC5 from the late 1960s and early ’70s and the high-velocity assault of punk from its breakthrough years of 1976 and ’77. Death’s songs “Politicians in My Eyes,” “Keep On Knocking” and “Freakin Out” are scorching blasts of feral ur-punk, making the brothers unwitting artistic kin to their punk-pioneer contemporaries the Ramones, in New York; Rocket From the Tombs, in Cleveland; and the Saints, in Brisbane, Australia. They also preceded Bad Brains, the most celebrated African-American punk band, by almost five years.

Jack White of the White Stripes, who was raised in Detroit, said in an e-mail message: “The first time the stereo played ‘Politicians in My Eyes,’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I was told the history of the band and what year they recorded this music, it just didn’t make sense. Ahead of punk, and ahead of their time.”

Here’s a song, via Youtube — it’s just a tune with the image of the record laid over it:

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Performing With the BTK Band at Stonewall Inn on Wednesday March 4th

February 28th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I’ll be telling a story onstage at the legendary Stonewall Inn next Wednesday night, if any of you are so inclined. This is perfect, actually — I have a big show coming up in late March, and this should be a perfect short-term deadline to write the story, test it out, and generally get my shit together.

The show is with Peter Aguero’s BTK band. I know Peter from The Moth and other live story shows in New York — here’s a bit of copy about him and the band:
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Goodbye, Goo-Goo Muck: R.I.P, Lux Interior

February 4th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I wear a three-piece suit to work every day now. Now punk rock’s a prepackaged dream, a preservative-riddled batter you can spray out of a can and into your lifestyle, cook it up and presto, instant rebellion. Music’s not scary anymore, and when people howl and flail at their guitars it’s an animatronic history lesson, not the real thing.

Also those damn kids keep running on my lawn.

I don’t mean to be cranky and morose. But Lux Interior died today, and the world’s a lot more boring without the Cramps.

I made this photo in the Sleeveface style as my own little R.I.P.

cramps-sleeveface

Bonus points if you see that I’m wearing the album cover on my t-shirt, too.

I wrote a little story about my relationship to Lux and the Cramps — check it out after the jump if you like.
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Reverend Al Sharpton Hates Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

November 14th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

During the time that I was in Royal Quiet Deluxe (chicken band), I was invited to a large dinner with the Reverend Al Sharpton. Everyone had to go around the table and describe who they were and what they did. I was neither an accomplished member of the community in Norfolk, nor was I African-American. Everyone else at the table was both. I just kinda ran with a description of the band.

It did not go well. At all. In fact, the evening rippled throughout my life for about ten years, causing tremendous embarassment in a comic book store this summer.

Here’s a video of me telling the story on stage at The Moth:

I think I’ve just about milked this chicken band thing for all it’s worth now …

You can see the companion to this story here:

Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

A story by The Moth’s Jim O’Grady here:

Jim O’Grady on “Respect”

And a story by The Moth’s Juliet here:

Juliet Tells the Tale of ‘Mannequin Dan’

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Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band: Now the Story is Told on Video

November 3rd, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Today is national fix-the-country day, and it’s gonna be a long one. No matter what side you’re on, you’re probably sick of the campaigning by now. As a little distraction from all the election-related news you’re sure to be drowning in, I thought I’d post a video of me telling the story of Royal Quiet Deluxe, (chicken band) at The Moth.

By way of comparison, you can read a written version of the story here.

The story links to one of our recordings, made with a primitive drum machine, delay/loop pedal, and my tireless prattling.

The following track, though, is a different sort of sound collage. We recorded it on the front porch of Tim’s parent’s place out in Botetourt County, VA, one hot summer evening. You can hear crickets and locusts in the background, something I think is pretty cool. I am playing the typewriter as percussion here, Tim is playing guitar, and the chickens are pecking and vocalizing. Tim mixed in a recording about Exotic Newcastle Disease in Southern California that was recorded over the telephone many years later, and presto — you have:

Exotic Newcastle Disease, by Royal Quiet Deluxe

There’s one more story in this saga. I’ve told it onstage at a Moth event recently, and I’m waiting to get ahold of the video so I can crunch it and post it here — and I’m working on the text version for those of you that want the full-on boxed-set experience. Suffice it to say that while the Internet has helped me find a whole new audience for this band that I never thought existed, I am 100 percent positive that the Reverend Al Sharpton still thinks the whole concept of Royal Quiet Deluxe is the stupidest thing he’s ever heard.

You can see a story by The Moth’s Jim O’Grady here:

Jim O’Grady on “Respect”

And a story by The Moth’s Juliet here:

Juliet Tells the Tale of ‘Mannequin Dan’

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Tobacco’s “Truck Sweat”: So Sick, So Good

October 23rd, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Jesus’ teats blasting eight solid sunbeams, I am SO in love with this video. It’s got everything all together — lurching grinding trippy catchy electronic sounds and a montage of seriously strange video clips from the ’80s. There’s industrial instructional stuff here, infomercial clips, vintage exercise videos, people stepping in sticky stuff and sandwiches and just a little bit of cheesy porn.

That’s just a dildo, though, not an actual cock.

So yeah, this is probably NSFW, but I mean, really. The dongs in this thing are obviously phonies, and they’re just kind of waving around. Any boss with half a brain would see that they’re just comedy dongs, not used with any sort of intent here.

I can never tell what’s safe for work and what’s not, because I just can’t get my head around the fact that a disembodied rubber dildo could be at all offensive in anyone’s workplace, unless that workplace was like, an Amish barn-raising or something.

But somehow I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. Anyway.

This video is for the song “Truck Sweat,” directed by Tobacco, for music also by Tobacco from the album “Fucked Up Friends.” Tobacco, as some of you may know, is a member of the psychedelic super-group Black Moth Super Rainbow. On with the clip and let the dicks fall where they may:

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Stevie Wonder Just Called To Say Everyone Else Is Dead

September 30th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Grey and foggy days used to terrify me. As a small child, I’d have full-blown panic attacks when I was in the woods or even tall grass with my family on an overcast, misty day. I was sure that a rotting arm would punch its way up through the dirt and grab my ankle. Or worse, the undead would snatch my family and spare me, leaving me in the world utterly alone.

I spent a lot of time alone in the car reading X-Men comics in those years, on the grey fall days when my mom and dad would want to get out into the country as a family and get some fresh air in the country.

“Fuck togetherness, there’s zombies out there,” I’d think, huddling down onto the floor of the car after my mom got tired of pleading me to come outside.

For some reason, the zombies were out to torture me and me only. I knew my family would be safe if I wasn’t with them — the undead would just lie there and let them pass unmolested, leave them to move around like the rest of the earth’s walking meat. As the Chosen One, sworn enemy of the non-living, I had a responsibility to protect my family and sometimes it got a little lonely.

Then “The Day After” came out and the whole game changed.
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Bang Your Head and Brush Your Teeth : Muppets Go Metal

August 21st, 2008 by D.Billy

There’s just something beautiful about the cultural dissonance created when something saccharine and innocent meets something…well… not.

Case in point – these stellar YouTube mashups, which pair old Muppet Show and Sesame Street footage with death metal songs:

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